Organic Farming Education for Agricultural Professionals

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2002: $88,170.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Faye Jones
Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: barley, rye, soybeans, sunflower, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Animals: bovine, poultry
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: parasite control, grazing - continuous, free-range, feed rations, herbal medicines, homeopathy, pasture fertility, preventive practices, grazing - rotational, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: cover crops, fallow, foliar feeding, intercropping, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, ridge tillage, strip tillage, conservation tillage, contour farming
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, workshop, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: risk management
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, soil stabilization, wildlife
  • Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, compost extracts, cultural control, eradication, field monitoring/scouting, flame, integrated pest management, mulches - killed, mulches - living, mating disruption, physical control, mulching - plastic, cultivation, row covers (for pests), sanitation, trap crops, traps, mulching - vegetative, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: earthworms, green manures, organic matter, composting, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Organic farming is growing in the Midwest. Most growth is in the field crop and dairy sectors that have established organic markets and price premiums. A growing number of Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) professionals have expressed interest in doing more to serve this traditionally under-served sector and meet the information needs of farmers considering a transition to organic farming, and those currently practicing organic farming. When the Organic Foods Production Act is implemented in October, more farmers will be requesting specific information on organic standards, allowed inputs, and other federal certification requirements. Under a new Memorandum of Understanding signed last November, NRCS professionals for the first time will help prepare organic farm plans and provide other assistance to organic farmers. A Professional Development Program (PDP) provided by Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services, Inc. (MOSES) will train at least 100 CES, NRCS, and other professionals in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to handle these new requests. Twelve on-farm training courses will be presented over a two-year period; two in each state per year. This project will also provide course reference notebooks, organic farm tours and field days, an electronic newsletter, an electronic Upper Midwest Organic resource Directory, and instruction in accessing organic information sources. Surveys before the courses will assess prior knowledge of topics and evaluations afterwards will assess whether expectations were met. Follow-up surveys will solicit feedback on how often participants were called on to utilize information presented, whether they felt qualified to handle inquiries, whether they successfully accessed websites and other organic information sources, and whether they identified new knowledge gaps.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Short-Term Outcomes:
    ·At least 100 CES and NRCS professionals in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin will have general knowledge of organic agriculture, the status of the organic farming sector in the region, and markets and other factors that determine its viability as a profitable farming alternative.
    ·They will have specific knowledge of organic crops, livestock, dairy, and fruit and vegetable production and practices in the Midwest and will feel confident and comfortable discussing organic agriculture at meetings and with individual farmers.
    ·They will have general knowledge about national organic standards, allowed inputs, approved practices, record keeping, and other federal certification requirements and will know where to refer farmers requesting more specific information.

    Intermediate Outcomes
    ·They will be able to use reference notebooks, websites, directories, and other resources identified over two years of training to respond knowledgably to most questions from farmers relating to organic agriculture.
    ·They will be familiar with certifiers serving the 3-state region, Midwest organic farming organizations, successful organic farmers, land grant specialists involved in organic research and education, and other sources of organic-specific information and assistance.
    ·They will know where to go or who to ask for any additional information needed to serve organic farmers.

    Long-Term Outcomes
    ·They will be able to help their own agencies develop in-service training, technical assistance, publications, and other initiatives, activities, and materials that will help them do more to serve their organic farming clientele.
    ·The professionals will be better prepared to work with farmers in helping them to transition to organic farming.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.